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Briefing on Texas School Shooting; Eight People Killed in School Shooting; Santa Fe High School Student's Account; School Shooting News Conference. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More patients on the way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as I know, no more patients are on their way. But that could change. We'll keep you updated if we learn anything else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will there be another briefing with the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still plan on the 11:45 briefing, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said the man in surgery is his 30s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Middle -- middle age.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And chest injury, is that correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, chest area, I would -- I would describe it.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, that's the latest update from UTMB where they have three patients in their care, one in critical care, a female shot in the leg. That's the latest update that they had. Another patient who's under 18 years old. A lot of -- we're going to continue following this breaking news of the shooting at the Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. I'm going to hand it off to my colleague Dana Bash right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dana Bash in Washington picking up the breaking news right now.

We are following a high school shooting in Texas. Inside the school, we now know that several people are dead. At least eight have died. This is Santa Fe, Texas, we're talking about, just outside of Houston. The Harris County sheriff, just minutes ago, said the majority of those killed were students.

As for the person or people who did this, police say one person is in custody, another person is detained and that the situation at the school is now contained.

Here in Washington, President Trump said he is monitoring it from the White House and had these remarks a few minutes ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unfortunately, I have to begin by expressing our sadness and heartbreak over the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that just took place moments ago. We're closely monitoring the situation and federal authorities are coordinating with local officials.

This has been going on too long in our country. Too many years, too many decades now. We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support and love to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack.

To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High, we're with you in this tragic hour and we will be with you forever. My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others. Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe.

May God heal the injured and may God comfort the wounded and may God be with the victims and with the victims' families. A very sad day. Very, very sad.


BASH: That's President Trump speaking moments ago at the White House.

I want to go straight to the scene.

CNN's Rosa Flores is there in Santa Fe, Texas.

Rosa, can you give us an update on what you are seeing and hearing, the latest?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Dana, a lot of very intense moments here in Santa Fe, Texas. According to the Harris County sheriff, between eight and ten people are dead, most of them students. Others are injured and have been transported to the hospital.

Now, I want to take you to the scene here, so take a look, this is a very active scene. According to the sheriff, he has his bomb squad here. They are scouring through the scene to make sure that there are no other individuals who are in harm's way. This is a multiple law enforcement agency response from local, state and federal partners here.

Here's the timeline. According to the sheriff, shots rang out at about 8:00 a.m. this morning. According to witnesses that CNN has spoken to, now these are students who were in their first class of the day. They said that they heard a fire alarm go off. When all the students went out, that's when the shots rang out.

Now, according to the sheriff, there's an individual in custody and another one has been detained for questioning. The names of these individuals have not been released, but the sheriff does say that these two individuals were students. That's how they were able to gain access to this school.

When it comes to injuries, according to the sheriff, one police officer was injured. Now, we've heard from witnesses that there are other injuries and that at least one girl was shot in the leg.

Now, again, this is a very active scene. The sheriff gave us all of this information but warned that a lot of this is very preliminary because a lot of information is going in -- coming in. This investigation is ongoing. We have a lot of questions still lingering. Motive, what did the school do? Did the school have active shooter training? We know that around the country, states, congressmen, they're having these conversations, Dana, about how to prepare schools, students, teachers in the case of active shooter situations. We're going to be asking all of those questions here to see what kind of training these students and teachers obtain in the months or years leading up to this shooting.

[12:05:36] But, again, the breaking news here is coming from the sheriff. It's sad news. People here in Santa Fe were supposed to be celebrating. There was a cap and gown ceremony that was supposed to take place tomorrow. And instead, Dana, these families are going to be planning for funerals. According to the sheriff, between eight and ten individuals are dead, and most of them students.


BASH: Absolutely heartbreaking and tragic, Rosa.

I was just told in my ear as you were giving me the information you have that there are 12 patients now hospitalized in the Santa Fe area. I'm not going to ask you about the specifics of them because I'm getting this information as you are. But, broadly, you have -- you're there on the scene. Is the -- is the sense there a feeling that this is now over? Or because of the fact that you're pointing out what's happening behind you, is there a fear that it actually is still potentially active or is it an abundance of caution that they are going around and -- with the bomb squad and things of that nature?

FLORES: No, according to the sheriff, this is a contained scene. Now, we've seen this in other active shootings, unfortunately, around the country, that they usually have a bomb squad sweep the entire school. A lot of the times it's a precautionary measure. Here we specifically asked the sheriff that question, the type of arms, if there were pipe bombs involved, because, of course, we've been hearing a lot of hearsay. The sheriff did not confirm that that was the case. But a lot of the times, Dana, as you and I know from covering these shootings in other parts of the country, that is preliminary information at lot of the times and it's process and procedure. They want to make sure that the school buildings are secure, that they're safe.

We're still asking a lot of questions. I asked the sheriff, where did this shooting specifically happen? It was in a specific building? Was it outside? Was it inside? Was it in a specific area? A lot of those questions are still unanswered because they're still gathering a lot of information. You can see that a lot of vehicles are behind me. We're being kept probably about more than 1,000 feet from where the school is. A lot of them making those assessments.

The other things that's happening right now is parents are being reunified with their students. We learned this from Parkland, is that there's a lot of very emotional, tense moments happening as students are experiencing the trauma of an active shooter situation and parents are right there with them, with their text messages. In Parkland we learned that a lot of them left their text messages behind, their cell phones, as they were ringing. And so there's a lot of tense moments and a lot of, for sure, healing for this community to come.

BASH: No question, Rosa. Thank you for that report. We'll get back to you soon.

I want to go now to the phone. Grace Johnson is with us. She is a student at Santa Fe High School.

Grace, you were there this morning. Tell me what happened.


I was late coming into school. And it -- I probably got there about five minutes before it began. I was in the band hall with my peers, and we weren't doing anything. And the fire alarms began to go off. So everybody started going outside.

And we have a lot of fire drills, so sometimes they're not that urgent when they go off. So we just kind of took our time going outside.

At that point, when we got outside, the -- there is a hallway of glass by the art room. And from outside they started (INAUDIBLE) breaking and we heard gunshots. And so half of our kids ran back inside, and the other half ran towards the gas station.

My band director locked our (INAUDIBLE) door and rushed us up into the attic, where there is cement air-conditioning room. And there was a -- like a 200-pound sealed door and which they closed. And we sat up there.

[12:10:05] BASH: Absolutely terrifying. I am so sorry that you had to go through this, this morning.

Several questions.

First, did you actually see the gunman?

JOHNSON: No, I did not. But the shots were being fired the hallway outside of our band hall. So we could hear the guns. We could hear the yelling and the screaming. And we could hear the bullets.

BAS: Oh, my goodness.

And you said that there was a fire alarm pulled.

JOHNSON: Yes, ma'am.

BASH: Is that protocol? I'm guessing that your school, like many others, most across the country, has had drills. Is that what is supposed to happen with an active shooter?

JOHNSON: Yes, ma'am. That has never been -- that has never happened before. I don't know if it was something to get everybody into the hallway, or if it was to alert. But because the shooting didn't start happening until after people were outside or in the hallways.

BASH: Meaning, just to clarify, your school has done drills before, correct?

JOHNSON: Yes, ma'am. A few months ago we had --

BASH: And what's the protocol there?

JOHNSON: Normally the police department comes onto the intercom or somebody from the office will come on and there's a code word that they say.

BASH: And so it sounds like -- I mean, obviously, we have to get more information. What you think might have happened is that the fire drill was pulled in order to get the kids out of the classroom and potentially in the line of fire?

JOHNSON: That is an assumption that I would make, but I can't confirm that, no.

BASH: So you are in a band. You were saying you're in the band.

JOHNSON: Yes, ma'am.

BASH: And your band director really helped. Talk about how that went down.

JOHNSON: Yes, ma'am.

So a few months ago we had a school shooting scare where there were threats made and then firecrackers were lit off to simulate gunshots. And it was not an actual shooting, but because of it and Parkland, we began to do school shooting drills.

And my band director is ex-military, so he's very, very calm, cool, collected. Here's where we're going to go. This is how we're going to sit. Nothing bad is going to happen because, you know, we have that -- we have that cement room above our band hall and it has a steel door. And he stayed up there, kept us very, very calm. He gave us some -- he had a puzzle for them to do to keep them -- the kids occupied while they just kind of listened to see what was going on. BASH: And, Grace, you're the band chaplain?

JOHNSON: Yes, ma'am.

BASH: So I understand that you led your friends and classmates in a prayer as you were --

JOHNSON: Yes, ma'am.

BASH: Tell me about that scene.

JOHNSON: I -- we were hearing gunshots and many kids were having panic attacks. So I'm a senior. I'm about to graduate. But I -- I did, I'm still chaplain. So we were -- I was going to have a prayer circle. And we sat in a circle and we prayed for all of our -- all of our peers, that they were going to be all right. And we prayed for who was doing this, that something changes in them, that even though they're doing something wrong, like, we pray for them. And I think ultimately it just made everybody feel better.

BASH: Grace, I have to say --


BASH: I have to say, you're 18 years old, you are in the midst of something that no person, never mind a young person like you, should go through. And the fact that you had the presence of mind to lead your classmates in a prayer and try to calm them down is really remarkable. And I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with this. And I thank you for recounting everything for us. And I wish you and everybody there well.

Thank you so much.

JOHNSON: Of course.

BASH: And now I want to go to some other witnesses there in Santa Fe, Texas, recounting what they saw and heard.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard three shots and then I heard four more shots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the teachers were just telling us to run, run, go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard so many people saying that, like there was gunshots and that like people were dead and I was like shaking, my anxiety was -- it was bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pray. That's what we need right now, guys. Just pray for our kids.

[12:15:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because whoever did this is really selfish and cold-hearted. These are innocent people at our school. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you would have heard what I heard this morning,

the fear in my loved one's voice because of my son being in that classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really scary. Really, really scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very scary. My brother was in the classroom when it happened. We're still trying to get contact with him. He's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody should have to go through this and nobody should feel that pain. It hurts my heart to see this.


BASH: It hurts everybody's heart.

I want to report that the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, is on his way to the scene and should be there this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I want to bring in our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, also law enforcement analyst and former deputy FBI director Tom Fuentes.

Shimon, first of all, tell us what you're learning from your sources. And as you do, explain what it means when law enforcement officials down there say that the situation is contained.


So I think the whole point now is really to start building out the crime scene and figuring out -- and laying sort of the groundwork for what happened here. Why did this happen.

There is some concern, as we've heard from the sheriff, that there may be some suspicious devices, packages there that the bomb squad is going through. But officials to us are a little cautious in saying whether or not there were actually explosive devices or what they are.

But we know, as of about an hour ago, the bomb squad was there going through the scene, and that law enforcement was still trying to clear the school. That is, go through the entire school. Make sure that there are no other people who have been injured, no other people who have been killed, and also just generally to just secure the scene.

Now, we've heard a lot that the scene is contained. And essentially what that really means is that it's safe for law enforcement. There is no other active shooters. But still there is this concern of suspicious packages, suspicious, perhaps devices that may be there.

And then also, you know, we've heard a lot about the fire alarm.

BASH: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: The fire alarm, you know, we hear this from time and time again in these kinds of shootings, and some witnesses are saying that the fire alarm was pulled, they think, before the shooting since --

BASH: That's what Grace Johnson, who just talked to me said.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, because there's a lot of -- yes, a lot of confusion in these situations because as the fire alarm is probably going off, people are hearing gunshots.

Another witness said that they heard the fire alarm start to go off after the shooting started. Someone pulled it as a way to get students -- these students and teachers out of the school. So there's always, in these situations, as we know, conflicting information.

And then the other thing is always, you know, there's this assumption that there could be more than one shooter because two people are detained. Again, the sheriff there says only -- they believe there's been one shooter. They have detained a second person and they are questioning that person.

These situations are quite common. We see this in a lot of these kinds of shootings. Unfortunately, a lot of questions still remain because we have no idea what happened here.

And the other thing is, we really don't know, how did this student -- you know, if he's a student, he got inside the school. Some of the students said that it was a shotgun. And there's a whole host of questions because, you know, we keep hearing that students, that there are drills. We do these drills. We do these drills. But really, how do you protect students from getting killed at their own school? It's just no easy answer, no matter how many drills and no matter how much you prepare for these situations.

BASH: And as I go to you, Tom, I just want to tell you that I just got a text from an aide to Senator Ted Cruz, who says that he also is headed down to Santa Fe to the scene.

What are your questions as you -- your biggest questions, Tom Fuentes, as you watch what's going on down there with your law enforcement brethren?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, who's the shooter? Who is this person? Was he known to law enforcement? Was he known to school officials? Was he known as being dangerous to fellow students? We've seen that so often in the past where we have a very mentally disturbed individual who everybody that knows him knows he's dangerous but yet no real action is taken. Gee, we can't lock him up, we can't, you know, do what needs to be done. And so we don't know that yet. But I'd like to know, you know, if that's the situation.

Secondly, I'd like to know what weapon was used. The sheriff didn't describe that they've obtained the gun and they've sent it off with ATF to be search of, you know, the background on that weapon. So I'm curious about that. Where's the gun? Who has it? What's being done with it?

And then, are they searching -- have they located the residence of the shooter? Are they conducting searches there to exam computers, desktops, any kind of pamphlets, brochures, any meeting at all at that residence, which might shed light on the whole situation.

BASH: Tom -- Tom, I'm sorry to interrupt. I just want to let you know that we have -- we're getting some new information as you're speaking, that a possible explosive device or devices, I should say, have been located at the school and off campus. Law enforcement is in the process of rendering them safe. School has been evacuated, obviously. And what the Santa Fe ISD is saying is call 911 if you see any suspicious item.

[12:20:11] And that's what you were referring to, Shimon.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's exactly right. You know, we were told by law enforcement that there was some concern. And this is also, I think it's fair to say, kind of common practice after these situations where law enforcement goes into maybe the students, the shooter here took a car to school so they could be going through the car. They may find something there suspicious.

There could be a bag that he left behind at the school that they're going through and they may have seems something suspicious there. And so that seems to be what they're indicating here.

They have some concern that there may be some explosive devices here, that there are IEDs, is how some folks described it to us. So, obviously, this is what law enforcement says. While it is contained, they're still going through the process of going through that entire school to really make sure it's safe.

BASH: I mean just to use layman's terms, Tom Fuentes, it could be -- it could be booby-trapped.

FUENTES: Yes, Dana, could I add something. Could I add something, Dana.

BASH: Yes, please.

FUENTES: You know, this is one of the issues that comes up. Why do these searches of the buildings take so long? Why is it so difficult to not be able to clear that building quickly? And it's because the authorities have to be very meticulous, very cautious, with every door they open, with every desk drawer they open or student locker that they open with master keys.

On the other hand, if they have wounded students hiding, they can't take forever to get to them because they might bleed to death while they're in, you know, a wounded situation. So this is an extreme, difficult decision process for law enforcement clearing the building of the rescue of possible wounded versus coming across explosive devices if they go too, you know, quickly.

BASH: Absolutely. All right, everybody, stay with us. We have to take a quick break. A lot more on our breaking news. This is the 22nd school shooting in 2018. The 22nd shooting in a year that is not even halfway done. A lot more when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:26:24] BASH: Welcome back.

We're going to get right back to our breaking news. At least eight people, possibly more, are dead at a high school in Texas. That's after at least one person started shooting this morning just as classes were getting started.

The sheriff in Santa Fe, Texas, now says the majority of those killed are students.

We don't clearly have the numbers about how many people were hurt, but at least 12, we understand, and we don't know their conditions.

But as far as who did it, police say they have one person in custody, a young man they believe is a student at Santa Fe High School. One other person also believed to be a student is detained.

Let's get right to CNN's Rosa Flores, who is at the high school on the scene.

Rosa, what more can you tell us about those who are killed and wounded?

FLORES: You know, Dana, since we last talked, we do have some new information. This coming from Santa Fe ISD. The district here saying that there are possible explosives that were found on and off campus, and that law enforcement is processing those scenes at the moment. It's unclear how many scenes, but we do know from our last conversation, Dana, that the sheriff pointed out that his bomb squad is in this -- at the scene here that you see behind me.

Let me get out of the way so you can take a look. This is a very active scene. But they do say that it is contained.

Here's the timeline. According to the sheriff, shots rang out at about 8:00 a.m. According to witnesses, they were in their first period class when they heard a fire alarm go off. The students went outside of those classrooms, and that's when these students, these eyewitness that tell CNN, that's when they heard the gunshots or saw the shots being fired. Now, according to those same witnesses, there were multiple people injured, and also at least one girl who was shot in the leg.

Now, we know that these --

BASH: Rosa, we're going to have to interrupt you. I'm sorry, we're going to have to interrupt you and get to a press conference with local officials right there in Santa Fe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are grieving the loss of members of our Santa Fe ISD family. We have received an outpouring of support from across the state and we appreciate your continued prayers for our students, our staff and our community.

I'm going to turn it over to our chief of police, Walter Ron, to share with you some details that we have at this time. Thank you.

CHIEF WALTER RON (ph): As you're aware, a horrific event occurred today at Santa Fe High School. At this time the campus has been cleared of all students and staff members, and the students and staff have been relocated at our reunification site and are in the process of being reunited with their families.

We're at the operational stages now in the investigation. We know that there's been at least six transported, including one Santa Fe ISD police officer that has been shot.

We have one suspect in custody and one person of interest detained.

Anyone with information regarding this event is asked to call our Santa Fe ISD command center at 409-927-3310.

We can confirm multiple fatalities, believed to be fewer than 10 at this time. We will not release any other information until we have a confirmed number.

Injured students and staff have been transported to area hospitals. Any parents and family members can go to the Alamo Gym, which is located at 13306 State Highway 6 for any additional information regarding their student.